Did the System Work? Aftermath of the 2020 Election

answer: has it ever?

by Wayne Price
Liberals and others declare that the defeat of Donald Trump and of his coup-attempts demonstrate that "the system works," that the U.S.A. has an effective "democracy." I cannot see it that way.

Among Democrats, liberals and more “moderate” types, there has been a huge sense of relief—even in spite of Trump’s post-election shenanigans. Whatever Joseph Biden’s imperfections they say, the crazed, corrupt, vicious, and incompetent Donald Trump has been thrown out of office. He lost both the popular and Electoral College votes by significant margins. And despite his post-election campaign to overturn the results (with court cases, pressure on state officials, and even threats of martial law), he has failed miserably to change the outcome. So the system worked. Thank God for “democracy”!

I cannot see it that way. To some extent this view is like being blinded by the fact that covid-19 vaccines have been developed. See, our system of health care works! But the only reason we are glad for the vaccines is that we had the pandemic. The pandemic was exceptionally awful in the U.S. due to our lack of universal health care plus the incompetence of the Trump administration. Millions of U.S. people were deliberately misled to oppose reasonable health measures. Even with the vaccines, an effective system of producing and distributing vaccines has yet to be implemented. Worst of all, is the probability that other pandemics will come. This is due to capitalism’s policies of industrializing agriculture, spreading urbanization, violating boundaries of jungles and forests, as well as the effects of global climate change on world ecological balance. So, yes, it is great that vaccines have been developed, just as it is good that Trump has been ejected from office. But don’t say, the system has worked.

Trump’s 2016 election was an example of the system breaking down. Obviously incompetent and bizarre, he beat some 14 other candidates for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party. The establishment of the party did not want him, nor did most of the big donors behind them. But they had so miseducated their base, that the Republican base saw no reason to reject someone who seemed likely to carry out their fantasies. Given that our politics are geared to only two parties (so if you don’t like one you have to support the other), and that U.S. people are educated to look for a great leader to solve their problems (whether Obama or Trump), he fit the bill.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was seen as—and was—more of the same-old same-old establishment which had left unemployment, poverty, and misery in vast stretches of rural and semi-rural industrial regions. Trump seemed as different as could be. Deeply “religious” evangelicals and others liked his opposition to abortion. And he was open about his racism and nativism, which attracted many (other supporters were not attracted by his racism but were not sufficiently bothered by it either). He talked a good game and was entertaining.

And so Trump lost the 2016 election. By about three million, he lost what is charmingly called the “popular vote” (which in most countries is simply “the vote”). But the geographical distribution of the votes was such that he won the Electoral College. The Electoral College is only one of the many undemocratic elements which are baked into the U.S. political system. Others are the Senate where every state, no matter its size or population gets two senators, elected for six years. The majority of the Senate represents a minority of the country. The judiciary is appointed for life. The House of Representatives is elected through highly gerrymandered districts, so incumbents are hard to get rid of. And don’t get me started on the structures of the state governments! This is even before considering the role of big money in elections. These undemocratic aspects are obvious and difficult to defend, but nothing is done about them. They all serve to limit the democratic elements of the system and to strengthen the actual rule of the capitalist elite.

Trump’s Rule

Having been legally “elected” (much to his own surprise), Trump preceded to wreck the government and country. He pleased the corporate rich and their Republican minions by signing a huge tax cut for them, as well as cutting business regulations. He appointed hundreds of pro-business judges to every level of the federal judiciary. These actions led the capitalists and the Republicans to put up with his otherwise odd and destructive behaviors. He waged war on the environment (threatening the future of humanity). To the dismay of the imperialist establishment, he antagonized U.S. allies and cozied up to various opponent strongmen rulers, especially Putin. He betrayed the Kurds. He separated children from their parents at the border and threw them into cages. He degraded Congress by ignoring its subpoenas and oversight; he de-professionalized and politicized all aspects of the executive branch, from the FDA to the FBI, from the Department of Justice to the weather bureau. By actions and rhetoric, he whipped up racial and other divisions among the people. And he constantly, incessantly, and blatantly lied about everything. This last seems to be not just a strategy but a deeply ingrained personality defect. (This is a mere sample of the terrible things Trump did.)

In response, the Republican Party threw its support almost totally behind him, backing every vicious action and unhinged behavior. The Democrats chose to impeach him, using their majority in the House, on the basis of one of his lesser crimes. They made an overwhelming case for his conviction, but the Republican-controlled Senate rejected it without serious consideration. So he went on trashing and crashing the government and country. Even the ruling corporate rich got tired of him and worried about the costs to their country (and their investments in it). By the 2018 mid-term elections, his party was routed in the House—but kept, and even expanded, its majority in the Senate.

Then came the coronavirus. Donald Trump’s management of government responses to the pandemic was remarkably stupid, incompetent, dishonest, and just plain wacky. Other countries with conservative leaders managed to deal with the plague in more-or-less effective ways. But Trump went from denying its existence, to advocating weird treatments (injections of bleach!), to holding super-spreader events, to interfering with the scientists and doctors at the FDA and CDC, to simply ignoring the issue by the end of his term. The sickness and death rates of the U.S.A. led the world. The economy, which had continued a brittle “recovery” since the Great Recession, plunged downward.

Trump’s policies accelerated political trends in the country: the dissolution of a “moderate” middle. The Republicans, once a “moderate” center-right party, now developed into a far-right cult with a fascist fringe. There has been a growth of out-and-out fascists, U.S. Nazis and other white nationalists, who carry guns to rallies and advocate overthrowing the government.

The Democrats had been slowly moving to the right, until they became the new center-right party. But they had to accommodate an upsurge on their left. There were big demonstrations by young adults against global warming. Polls showed large numbers of young people identifying as “socialists.” Bernie Sanders twice ran for president within the Democrats, as a “democratic socialist.” (By this he meant something like the liberal-capitalist Nordic countries, such as Denmark or Sweden.) Sanders lost both times. The right wing of the party (“moderates”) threw its weight behind Clinton and then Biden, to deny Bernie the nomination. Yet a large part of the country’s youth has come to regard themselves as some sort of “socialist.” The Democratic Socialists of America surged to around 85 thousand. Meanwhile there has also been an expansion of people attracted to anarchism. All this signifies a swing to the left.

Then there was the explosion of mass protest over the police murder of George Floyd. Declaring Black Lives Matter, the demonstrations occurred all over the country, in spite of the pandemic, in cities, towns, and villages, raising issues of justice for African-Americans, with a large participation of white people. The left wing of the movement called for “Defunding the Police,” or even abolition of the police and prisons—really anarchist demands, since they would be impossible under capitalism and its state. The Democrats did all they could to channel the movement into the election. They opened up a “progressive wing,” for the admirers of Sanders, AOC, and Elizabeth Warren, to corral the frustrated leftists. To a degree this worked. But the anger and militancy has not gone away.

Would There Be a Coup?

It was highly probable (not inevitable) that Trump would lose his re-election bid. He had been unpopular since the beginning of his term (although there was a strange wide-spread belief that he had been good for the economy). Most of the capitalists had had enough of his incompetence and weirdness. They showed this by making most of their donations to Biden, by about two to one. (Had the Democratic nomination gone to Sanders or Warren, they might have felt differently—which is largely why Biden was chosen.) Their agents in the establishment felt similarly. Day after day, leading generals, civil service officials, national security specialists, and former Trump officials, declared their opposition to Trump.

As it became increasingly obvious that Trump was losing, he retreated ever deeper into denial and lying, insisting that he was winning, and indeed had won by a landslide. Republican efforts at voter suppression failed to overcome the popular vote (despite sabotaging the postal service to interfere with mail-in ballots). Trump and his minions sunk deeper into denial and farce. They were not just asking for recounts here and there but the overturning of the election. They asked for judges to annul various states’ popular votes. They called on state legislatures to cancel the results of their people’s votes and to create their own pro-Trump electors for the Electoral College. There was talk at the highest levels of Trump’s supporters, and Trump himself, of declaring martial law, seizing ballot boxes, and calling “new elections” (under the guns of the soldiers and police).

Despite hysteria among some liberals, a Trumpist coup was unlikely to be attempted. Trump had antagonized the leadership of all branches of the military as well as most of the “intelligence community” (FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.). It is difficult to make a coup without the support of the military and national police. The capitalist class did not want it. All the big lawyers who were the top representatives of the capitalists stayed away from Trump’s legal comedy acts, and conservative judges threw his cases out with scorn. The majority of the population, which had voted for Biden, certainly did not want a coup, nor even, when it came down to it, did most of those who had voted Republican. However, it was important that the militant wing of the left (even some unions) prepared to call demonstrations, civil disobedience, and strikes, in case Trump made a serious attempt. .

What Trump gained by his campaign of denial (aside from his perverse psychological need to insist that he won) was the support of a huge minority of the population, which believes his lies about a stolen election. He may use them in the future. And a lot of money, which the old con man had grifted from his large base of suckers for his supposed “defense.”

While Trump’s coup attempts failed miserably, they exposed the fault lines through which a future coup may be more effectively attempted one day. Suppose the crises repeat until there is a mass movement calling for taking away the wealth and power of the capitalist class and creating a radically democratic political and economic system—a movement led by a united front of radical socialists and anarchists. Fearing for their wealth and status, the capitalists and their politicians (of both parties) will use the methods which Trump tried to use. They will overturn elections and ban popular protests, using their judges and gerrymandered state legislatures. Using the Insurrection Act, they will declare martial law. They will also mobilize a base of tens of thousands of hysterical, deluded, white people into an organized armed movement. Whether these methods will succeed (as they did in fascist coups in Italy, Germany, Spain, and Chile, among other places) depends heavily on whether the left-led mass movement has the militancy and organization to fight back in a revolutionary manner.

What Next?

The “progressive wing” of the Democrats is already disappointed by the Biden-Harris administration. Others have praised Biden for his appointment of experienced old timers (compared to the Trump circus of crooks and arrogant incompetents)—but this also means continuing old policies and worldviews. Biden has tried to make this look good by choosing people with a variety of “identities”: not only straight white men but women, African-Americans and Latinx people, at least one Gay man, a Native American woman to head the Department of the Interior, children of immigrants, and so on. In itself, this looks good, but does not really make up for a limited range of political philosophies and policies. Sanders has already complained about the lack of progressives among Biden’s appointees. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been denied a seat on the House committee which handles the environment. The BLM organization has complained about being left out of conferences between Biden and Black “leaders.”

When issues come up in Congress, we can expect the progressives to lose out . They will be told that there is a need to compromise with the Republicans, who are intransigent about rejecting progressive policies. Further, there is a need to work with the more conservative “purple state” Democrats. These are already complaining about the effects of having socialists in their party, and about calls to “defund” their friends the police. They will insist on downplaying progressive demands in order to get re-elected. Unfortunately, these establishment arguments against liberal programs are not unreasonable, from a “realistic” political view. It was the progressives who believed in working within the system and moving things forward by using elections and offices—as opposed to working from outside and pressuring the centers of power through militant popular action from below. Now they must live with the consequences.

To understand the present political moment, it is necessary to look at the pattern of presidential elections. Start with Richard Nixon, a terrible but intelligent person, who was forced out of office over Watergate. This was widely seen as a great victory and the return of normalcy. His appointed successor Gerald Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter, part of the return of goodness. But Carter lost his re-election campaign to Ronald Reagan, a charming but fairly stupid reactionary. Reagan lasted for two terms, plus got his vice president, George H.W. Bush, elected. But after one term, Bush was replaced by Bill Clinton. Once again, liberals felt that the country had turned from darkness toward the light. Clinton had his two terms and then his vice president, Al Gore, ran but was defeated by the not-bright conservative, George W. Bush (actually Bush probably lost the popular vote but was crowned by the Supreme Court majority and the Electoral College). After his second term, Bush was succeeded by Barack Obama. Yet again, there was great rejoicing among liberals and leftists. A new day had dawned, so they thought. African-Americans were ecstatic (although few bought the claim that the U.S. had entered into a “post-racial” condition). But then Obama was followed by the vile and stupid Donald J. Trump.

During this time, progressives were mostly disappointed by the performance of the Democratic presidents. I won’t go into that. Even if they had been heroes of liberty, equality, and peace with all nations, my point is that the Democrats were invariably followed by reactionary Republicans. In fact, the reactionary presidents got more and more reactionary and more stupid and incompetent, as history ratcheted downward.

The problem, then, was not just Trump—although he was uniquely awful. Nor is it the Republican Party, although it has turned into a highly organized minority party with extremist reactionary views and a deluded hard base of followers. (There have been similar far-right, pseudo-populist, authoritarian, movements in other nations around the world, despite differing political traditions and personalities.) Nor is it simply the Democratic Party, as held by some leftists who want to build a new, third, political party. It is the system as a whole which is in crisis.

Overall, the capitalist economy has been increasingly stagnant and declining, since about 1970, with the end of the post-World War II prosperity. The capitalist class and its agents have sought to prop themselves up by lowering the living standards of the working class and by attacking the environment. Old evils, such as racism, cannot be overcome. Whatever gains have been made in the past are being driven back. This means increased suffering for masses of people—even among former (relatively) well off white workers and middle class people. It means wars and threats of wars. It means continuing danger of pandemics. And it means the emergency of global climate change, which threatens the ability of the earth to sustain its human and animal populations.

Under these conditions, people will not be satisfied by either of the twosemi-official parties. They will vote for one, to get “change,” and next time vote for the other—also for “change.” That is, “change” within the limits of what has been accepted as political reality. Not socialism. Not anarchism. Therefore electing Democrats, no matter how liberal, will not solve anything because they cannot stop the people’s dissatisfaction, which will continue to increase. Voters will continue to shuffle between the two parties (those that bother to vote, or who are not prevented from voting).

While Biden won with a solid majority, there was no “blue tsunami” as the Democrats had hoped. Trump still got tens of millions of U.S. people to vote for him. Many of them live in the political bubble of Trump’s lies and the propaganda of Fox News and similar media outlets, if they aren’t sucked into the fascist delusions of Q-anon. Many of these believe that the state and the media are illegitimate. Thus includes the majority of white men in the upper working class and lower middle classes. In other countries and in other times, such layers supported either revolutionary socialist movements or overt fascism. With de-industrialization and the decline of unions, their current leanings are to the hard right. This might change if they are offered a real choice.

Non-electoral alternatives will continue to grow at the edges of “respectable” politics. On the one side fascism will expand. On the other is the growth of various socialists, revolutionary anarchists, African-American activists, climate justice militants, new feminists, immigrant organizers, Native American warriors, and rank and file labor organizers. If they can avoid sinking into the tar sands of the Democratic Party and electoral politics, these and others offer hope of a way out toward a new society.

*written for www.Anarkismo.net

There are 90 Comments

Democracy bad. Don't talk about democracy because We anarchist don't talk about how system works n stuff!

Rule by decree, tho, is all fiiiine.

It’s just done by controlling institutions instead of repressive state heads. All rule is decree including majority democratic.

Freedom is slavery...
War is peace...
SE is a honest, good-faith, brilliant intellectual...

What exactly do you mean by these things to begin with. Democratic majority law based rule is still RULE.

different anon here...

of course rule is rule, law is law. and as a completely anti-political individual with strong anarchist and anti-civ affinities, i would say that the democratic republic in the u.s. is NOT rule by decree. when 535 people have to get together (in various ways) and VOTE on laws, that is not rule by decree. now, you could argue that the laws being voted on are limited to what is acceptable to some authoritarian individual or group (in this case hidden from public sight). whether that amounts to rule by decree is probably arguable.

Dude, this just shows how you completely don't have a clue about irl politics. Rule by decree is autocratic rule, negating the role of legislative assemblies or parliamentary process shaping laws and executive orders.

I'm not advocating here for this bureaucratic, elitist system, that is despotic for all those not in the House. Tho I don't see how you can have a valuable critique of any system without having a legit understanding of how it works?

The thing is rule of law of is RULE. That's my underlying point if anything. With the current modern method you just go from repression towards control. I'm not seeing where any type of freedom comes into this.

agree with all of that. rules are imposed, no freedom, etc. it's just not "rule by decree", not in any way i understand the phrase.

care to elaborate? how does native american warrior = noble savage bullshit?

In Price's summary of identities they claim as the good ones:

"various socialists, revolutionary anarchists, African-American activists, climate justice militants, new feminists, immigrant organizers, Native American warriors, and rank and file labor organizers."

... they specifically use "warrior" as the descriptor for whatever indigenous people (imagined or otherwise) that exist in Price's head at the time. Since Price didn't describe Native Americans as: fighters, combatants, comrades, organizers, militants, activists, whatever-other-identity-they-like, or just plain Native Americans, and instead chose "warriors" (as if from a fucking sports franchise) I can only conclude their understanding of who indigenous people are is being led by the noble savage idea. which really isn't all that surprising. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_savage

nice trolling dipshit. wayne's old. cut your idpol bullshit out ya shithead.

nothing is more idpol than the concluding paragraph to this shit essay and your shit excuse for a shit understanding of the world.

nothing more idpol... i would say that you feeling the need to go out of your way to 'call out' someone on your perceived misuse of their wording around identity is about as idpol as it gets

while the essay may be saying nothing really revelatory for many anarchists (it reminds me of my conversations with my mom when she was pressuring me to vote) your hostile response is pretty wacky.

I concur with you 10:33 with your nuanced opinion concerning Price's use of the term "warrior" to describe first people, that his view and politics are of the Romanticist era.

in all of the calls to action around indigenous issues in the last decade the term warrior is used, and it is used internally in indigenous communities the way that other groups use terms like 'militant' or 'activist' or whatever else. what on earth are you talking about?

it seems sanctimonious trolling is nothing new here and we are not impressed by it, little troll ;)

fuck wayne price and all his boring bullshit.

however, you seem to be assuming that he used the term "native american warriors" to refer to ALL native americans. do you also think he used "african american activists" to imply ALL african americans are activists?

Vikings were indigenous yet never went around claiming to be warriors, yet their male code of dying standing on a battlefield would have to be the most warrior-esque sentiment in the history of warfare.
The term "warrior" uses extreme poetic licence to project a false picture of bravery and duty in times of paranoid angst, and should not be used outside of fictional scripts or fañtasy stories for entertainment mostly satire.

Good satire for adolescent 70's generation. 90's was McDonald's Hunter/Gatherer Underground Rebels. 2000's is SocialMediaAnarcho-GenderNihilists. 2010's was MeToClimateIdentity rioters. 2020's I guess Virus AntiDeathAnxiety rebels. Price has got some catching up to do, he hasn't even been through the primitivist stage!

"Vikings were indigenous"

Nope. Viking is the term for a class of sailors/merchants/raiders (or pirates) of medieval Scandinavia, not an ethnic group. Sami people were included in the this class, too, not just the Norse.

Oh wow thankyou sooo much! That's cleared up alot about my opinions concerning Goths, Celts, Picts, Ostro-Goths, Visi-Goths, Gauls, Mongols, Slavs, miscellaneous wandering clans of Bronze Age peoples, I didn't know classification was deterministic based on the material tools were made from and not their social structuring and ethics sorry.

We glorious Sàmi Republican Warriors are not noble indigenous Idpol hordes, oh no, we are democratic parliamentarians who wield sophisticated currency!

It is true. We should be ruled by a bunch of enlightened, cultivated people from top universities. Enough with the horrors of self-management for everyone!!! Time to bring baaaaaaack governance of those who DESERVE it. Like me and my fam, for instance.

hmmm i detect sarcasm in your comment. is unclear to me what you mean to say here about your family's deserving. can you elaborate? offer some context to the story your' telling ?

Wasn't Muhricah founded and developed by a handful of White wealthy families, who developed a private higher education system in order to insure the formation and prevalence of their intelligentsia for generations?

The problem with the United States is not that it has "democracy" nor that it has "majority rule." In fact it has rule by a minority (more-or-less the "1%") which is backed up by a deluded and misguided majority. That popular majority never gets to hear the views of radicals, socialists, or anarchists and so cannot really be said to make free, democratic, choices.

Meanwhile, the economic system does not even pretend to be democratic. Capitalism is run top-down, dictatorially, in all its enterprises, whether small businesses or multinational corporate monopolies. Their rationalization is that they have "freedom," not that they have "democracy."

Of course, all anarchists are against the bourgeois "representative democracy" of the existing capitalist state, and wish to overthrow it (even if it is temporarily better to live under this sort of regime than under fascist or Stalinist totalitarianism). But almost all anarchists would agree that they are for communal and industral self-management (or self-government, autogestion, etc.). This is what some of us call "direct democracy" ("participatory democracy"). Let us not quibble over terminology when we are for the same thing.

BTW does anyone have a comment on my analysis of the political situation after the elections?

With enough power these ideologues could become Jim Jones-esque figures living in Utopian communes fenced off from the evil outside free-thinking individualists.

isn't the insistence on calling your fantasy some kind of qualified democracy ("participatory" or "direct" or some other adjective) giving in to the mythology of the bourgeois conceit of legitimate authority? if what you're proposing is really different from representative democracy in at least a few meaningful ways, then wouldn't it be more accurate and/or descriptive to call it something else entirely? something with less ideological and historical baggage than "democracy"? i think the insistence on using "democracy" is a ploy to keep semi-curious and semi-positive people from being too frightened of the idea of defusing power away from what they might consider to be legitimate institutions of authority -- like work, industrialism, mass society. if what you want is the definitive and irreversible destruction of capitalism and the state, then why hold on to terminology that is specific to those cultural contexts? this isn't a "quibble over terminology"; it's a plea for expanding your imagination

Democracy anywhere it happens in the political language is an oligarchic system, driven by a struggle between factions and interest groups for one big sausage. In that sense, like the other commenter said, it is a "mob rule". If you've worked anywhere near a big party machine this should be pretty obvious to you. Parties and coalition only represent the interests of their own gangs involved.

(1) Why use "democracy" when we want the destruction of industrial capitalism, the state, and all others forms of oppression? Well, why do just about all anarchists refer to their goal as "freedom" or "liberty"? Aren't these widely-used justifications for the existing state and economy? From the Statue of Liberty, to "freedom fries," to "the land of the free and the home of the brave", and so on ad infinitum. Shall we stop using liberty and freedom to describe anarchy?

(2) There is a long history of the struggle over the meaning of the term "democracy" which is part of the struggle over democracy. As one commenter writes, "Democracy is mob rule." That's what the founders of the USA believed anyway. The people are the mob, and representative democracy will screen out their wildness while preventing a new king or dictator from taking over. But the idea of democracy has also been loved by masses of people, the downtrodden and impoverished, meaning to them their empowerment and liberation. I will not give up the positive use of "democracy" so long as it has revolutionary implications for so many.

(3) Anyway, there really is no alternative. No matter how decentralized, libertarian, and individualistic an anarchist society would be, it would still be a society, with many people living and working cooperatively and collectively. We will have to make group decisions. How will this be done? It might be done by appointing some wise elite to run things, which is hardly anarchism (but may be what the "democracy is mob rule" person wants). Or we can decide through collective discussion, mutual exchanges of views, social experimentation, and, finally, come to some collective decision (note the process of creating a decision through free use of social intelligence is more important than the technical mechanisms of majority-rule-with -minority-rights or consensus-with-the-right-to-bloc-or-stand-aside). Is this "rule"? Only in the sense of self-rule. This is direct democracy.

(4) One commenter defends me by writing, "Wayne's old." Another defends me by writing, "it reminds me of my conversations with my mom when she was pressuring me to vote." (I do not advocate voting.) Call me old, like your mom, will you, you young whippersnappers! Well yes, somedays I do feel like an old anarchist. Especially when going through old debates about democracy, individualism, and revolution.

you might be thrilled to know that this anarchist doesn't use the terms liberty or freedom any more than i use democracy to invoke or envision a future devoid of exploitation, domination, and institutionalized hierarchy. i prefer to call that anarchy, because i'm not afraid of descriptive terms that have been colonized by every institutional hierarchy and system of relations based on domination and exploitation. untangling anarchy from the idiots who've used the word to promote social democracy or communism or some strange ancap bullshit is far easier than untangling democracy or freedom or liberty from every totalitarian dictatorship, every republic based on partial suffrage, every constitutional monarchy, every fucking state in the history of states. your fetish toward democracy (direct of course) just sounds like some nostalgia from high school civics classes, because of course we all know that majority rule is the most fair system, whether it's to vote for home room spokesperson or the homecoming queen or the president of the united states. it's a bunch of bullshit, Wayne, and you're smart enough to understand that. your continued fixation on the terminology of statecraft is annoying, but then, you're in some fine company, with all the other anarcho-democrats. and anarchy means no ruler(s), not no rules. seriously, are you really going for such a low blow? i thought you had more dignity than that.

You sound just like your hero Gorbachev, you probably also like jazz like he did, socialist left jazz for the elitists managers of the mob while all the prole anarchs listened to metal. And the steaks and dinner wine while the anarchs had burgers and beer.
No but the founders didn't use the term "mob" because its used in a derogatory context 100% of its usage, except as irony when someone says about some lovable morons -- " They're a silly mob aren't they?" Yes!
Democracy only ever lasted in Athens for 200 years, its not like it existed for the 2,000 year duration of the Ancient Greek Empire, most of Greece was divided into seperate tribes and pre-unified city-states, oligachies and monarchies.
Democracy was a failed experiment 3,000 years ago but the founding fathers, drunk on Appollonian democractic republicanism, were not broad thinking intellectuals but pedantic bureaucrats greedy for wealth and power.

i never meant to imply that you advocated voting, only that your essay reminded me of trying to explain my anarchist position to someone who whose politics were liberal (in this case my mom). also, i am actually in my mid fifties so (unless you are my mom's age) who you calling whippersnapper!

dear wayne, what I meant by referring to your age was, I really don't care for that style of bad faith cyberbullying that was being directed at you and I appreciate your nearly infinite patience with all of us.

Get a room

you paying?

So much truly dubious work gets done with this notion of unavoidable "group decisions." Like the notion of an inescapable "society," it either needs to be unpacked or abandoned as essentially meaningless and probably deceptive. If there were truly "no alternative" to "collective" action, then the collectivists would either need to find a new word for the specific thing that they propose or they would have to acknowledge that all of the tough talk against "individualism" is really aimed at something that they believe is not even possible. You can quibble about "democracy" and "rule" as much as you like, but once you start making claims about what is inescapable, you either have to make the rest of your argument conform to that presumed certainty.

Anarchists—assuming the term means anything—have to assume that people are capable of "grouping" differently than they have in governmental societies, where there is always a subordination of the individual human being to some polity (governmental body, capitalistic firm, patriarchal family, etc.) If collectivity is indeed inevitable—and there are arguments from the early anarchists that certainly seem to support some version of the claim—it is not because political organization is inevitable, with its insistence on "rule" of one sort or another. (And, seriously, isn't "self-rule" the most humiliating capitulation to governmentalism of them all?) We can acknowledge collectivity as a result or product of the process association among individuals without then putting the car before the horse and making that product the most important thing in our social analysis and subordinating the producers to it.

One more effort, comrades, if you're going to have an analysis of anarchy and democracy that makes any damn sense...

Yeah, it seems the only real functional collective is the family or sport team, and even they can be disfunctional or losers. Maybe its time to not even have "function" or "positive outcome" or other social concepts obsessed with progress and societal success. Let's face it, entropy, death and tragedy and catastrophe are a reality we should embrace and then just get on with living within a more spontaneous paradigm rather than the unobtainable fake blissful projectory these liberals are always aiming for?!

People can define anarchism, freedom, and democracy any way they want. It's a semi-free country. For the sake of communication, here is how I look at things.

By the state, I do not mean (as others do) any system of conflict resolution, collective decision making, or even defense from anti-social actors. I mean a socially-alienated bureaucratic-military-police organization which stands above the rest of society and dominates (not part of the definition, but this is inevitably tied to a ruling economic elite). I believe that collective decision-making and social coordination can be done through the self-organization of the people without such an institution--in a free and cooperative society. This is what I mean by anarchism and by radical democracy.

I do not think that humans could live without society (community, collectivity, whatever). This can be done very differently from the way it is done under capitalism, the state, and patriarchy. But there must be some way to organize ourselves in a manner consistent with freedom. There must be collective decision making, rather than decision making by a few, set over the rest of us. I call this radical democracy. You are free to call it whatever you want (I don't really care).

Some comments are beyond weird. "You sound just like your hero Gorbachev, you probably also like jazz like he did." This is from the Trump school of making things up. But the writer also says, "Democracy only ever lasted in Athens for 200 years." If by democracy we mean non-state face-to-face group decision-making, then it existed for tens of thousands of years in hunter-gatherer societies (primitive communism).

As for the friendly comments by two posters on the question of age and understanding, I will say that I am too young, by one year, to make the 75 year cut off for being in the group to get the next vaccine shots. My patience is not "infinite." Somedays I feel like an old Jew.

Democracy REQUIRES a civic religion and implicit reified collective values to go along with it. Nothing anarchic about that.

"a civic religion and implicit reified collective values to go along with it"

Ergo, a State.

democracy without the state is meaningless; democracy, from its ancient origins through its modern formative years up till today, is undeniably a form of statecraft. i concede that just because there's never been a democracy that didn't enforce its democracy through a state doesn't necessarily mean that it can't ever happen, but you've got a couple thousand years of political inertia to fight against. your line of reasoning is so fucking flawed. why do you bring up obviously non-anarchist definitions of particular functions the state assumes for itself? these are non sequiturs, and don't do anything to enhance your arguments. now you add a new adjective, "radical" to the previous ones. but it also doesn't enhance your argument. i will indeed call what you describe something else. i call it unradical democracy, a sop to institutionalized decision making that at some point (given your other ideas, definitely sooner rather than later, deliberately and not in any way accidentally) will require representatives and therefore institutionalized alienation. it may not be bureaucratic in the same way that all modern states are, but the bureaucracy is incipient in even your barebones descriptions. calling the people who live there "the people" already acknowledges that your ideas haven't escaped the modern state's definition of whom it allegedly represents. who is to be included in this construct "the people"? presumably all adults. what about mentally ill/deficient/disabled adults? if they're candidates for conservatorship, will their conservators get a double say in the decisions? what about non-adults? will you have an age of decision making? 15? 16? 17? maybe there could be a board of examiners (perhaps even the same ones to decide on mentally deficient adults) to determine the intellectual level of non-adults to allow them special permits to engage in the decision making? will there be a lowest limit, below which one is definitely not permitted to participate? what about people who are just passing through the area? surely there will still be people who are mobile? maybe they can get permission (from some other board of examiners, no doubt, tasked with determining the parameters of duration of residence) to participate if they've been hanging around for longer than a certain number of weeks/months/years? seriously, Wayne, if you haven't thought about this stuff, you might not want to pontificate on the alleged benefits of "radical" democracy; the first rule of any democracy is to define the parameters of citizenship. you can't just ignore that if you're yammering about political science.

This doesn't feel like a clarification. You only seem to present a choice between obviously authoritarian structures and a "society/whatever" that still appears to be some kind of relatively fixed polity. You talk about alternatives, but we're still stuck trying to decide in "individualism" is an error or an impossibility. If this is not just Bookchin's position—majoritarian rule that doesn't dare avow its actual character, where imposition of some "collective will" is the norm, but is hopefully applied in an equitable manner—then some elaboration of the differences would be nice.

I thought I'd pay the old site and visit and gasp, you're still at it Wayne, preaching your tired old rhetoric to the impreshionable idealist youth, it could almost be defined as "grooming", getting the naive to become slaves to your socialist treadmill.
"Anarchism is democracy without the State" OMG no, you just cannot grasp the idea of individual autonomy and self-determination rather than the herd like obedience to a 51% false majority, a mass collective drawing of straws, a social gambling system for those who can bother or afford to place a bet on their future. And you call that progress, bahahahaaa!

There's nothin' wrong feeling like part of a herd. These socialist sufis can rock, so cool at your socialist get togethers Wayne!

Liberals and their calling it a coup attempt

anarchists seem to always find a way to defend the State somehow

"Liberals and their calling it a coup attempt
anarchists seem to always find a way to defend the State somehow"

You, are such a poorly-educated retard that conflates everything...

A coup is a coup. No matter how deluded or failed that is. It doesn't take a "liberal" to acknowledge that when a key legislative building is being raided by armed thugs *fully backed by the pigs*, and they even shoot inside like the dumb cowboys they are, there was a coup attempt. Goddamit.

So there aren't enough authoritarian kek bigots on this site for you so you gotta moooooaaan about "dem anarchists" every time you show up? Why don't you go back to 8kun, you pissant bitch? Them CHUD cripples not sexy enough for uuuu? You'd better get used to it, coz they'll be your only source of fuck for these years to come.

Nothing about it was a coup though...

I consider myself an Individualist-Anarchists, and no not an AnCap or Market Anarchists, but more in the Italian style Individualists

But what are your -isms gotta do with anything?

The goal of (Trump and his cops) letting these typical redneck idiots go in the capitol and flood the place was blatantly to disrupt the certification process in the House, and maybe shoot and arrest a few politicians (as seen with the guns fired and one paramilitary moron coming with tie-wrap handcuffs). Hence, that was in the dumb, absurd attempt to keep the Don in office when even the GOP wants to flush him. It's Muhrican whitetrash undereducated stupidity at its finest.

UNLIKE what a few here would like to COMFORT themselves in believing, I don't really give a fuck about the Capitol being raided by these clowns; it was just stunning. But that was nonetheless an *attempt* at a putsch, no matter how absurd.

It wasn't a coup just some dumb rednecks walking around looking for the liquor cabinet!

Dude.. the contents are not always the container. Yet that's a interesting way to look at it?

The crisis of the US political class, the compulsive ineptitude and deranged features of many of the functionaries of the regime, and the unstable character of US capitalism's "fundamentals" are exactly what takes place when a social order lurches towards a potential revolutionary crisis. Understanding this and responding accordingly can make all the difference in the world.

anon said ... to the anarchists ... their trollface dripping with smarm, their bloodshot eyes lit with self-gratification.

happy plague 2021 @news!

I don't get the feeling that most of my opponents are actually reading my remarks before writing their sparkling refutations. For example, "democracy, from its ancient origins through its modern formative years up till today, is undeniably a form of statecraft." This is asserted, ex cathedra, from the writer's bellybutton. Their is no response to my point that for tens of thousands of years humans have organized themselves in face-to-face self-government (that is, direct democracy) without states (defined as a oppressive institution over the rest of society).

There are repeated rejections of my assertion that human society is, after all, a society, and that in many areas under anarchism collective decisions will still have to be made. Must I spell it out for you? Can you deny it? How would you make collective decisions, such as how to lay out the streets in a commune, what schedule to keep for our shoemaking guild, how to deal with antisocial individuals, how to coordinate the commune's planting and reaping work, what mandate to give to our delegate to the regional council, etc.? If not decided by group discussion and decision-making (direct democracy) then what? A dictator perhaps?

" seriously, Wayne, if you haven't thought about this stuff," says one ignoramus. The writer does not know that I have written quite a number of essays on the topic of anarchism and democracy over the years. Look it up.

However, the Anonymous writer of "The Crisis of the US" seems to actually get the point of my essay. I completely agree with their remarks.

Oh sure, paleolithic groups of people sat around debating the ethics of running an entire herd of mammoths numbering 50 off a cliff because it was not sustainable and then counting votes, or even having a raised hand count. ALL THE MAMMOTHS WILL DIE! No vote, THEY DIE! Just like all the species becoming extinct now, democracy or no democracy, it is just a facade for mob rule, for mob greed, for mob dod eat dog capitalism or socialism, which is really just bankrupt capitalism.

Wayne, I think most of the responses are from people who believe that you have not considered the most anarchistic alternatives. And, to be honest, you haven't been very direct in distinguishing yourself from the proposals for "voluntary" majority rule that also circulate in anarchist circles under the label of stateless "direct democracy." It appears that your "group discussion and decision-making" is always explicitly labeled "group" or "collective" precisely because there is some alternative ("individualism"?) that you reject, but it's still very far from clear how the process you are championing differs from plain old discussion, on the basis of which individuals will decide. So maybe you could answer the "or what?" question, clarify to what you believe there is "no alternative," and let us know how essential that "group" designation (which seems to imply a relatively fixed polity of some sort) is to your position.

What a strange turn of events to find myself in almost total agreement with a Proudhonian Mutualist, whose economic ideas I find both boring and silly, when he reminds us of the importance of the individual. The importance of the individual has always been central to all schools of anarchism; not the centrality of the individual as the mutualists would prefer, but certainly not the disappearance as Price proffers. I mean seriously, what anarchist anywhere would dare to invoke the term "antisocial"?! This is a new low, even for someone like Price, who revels in conformist fantasies.
Against the anarcho-statecraft of leftist anarchists, for a federation of black triangles!

(1) As I argued in my essay above, there was never a chance for a successful coup. No part of the ruling class, the military, the national police (FBI, CIA, etc.), the media, and so on, wanted it, nor did most of the population, including Republicans. Nor was it clear what, if anything, was the goal of either Trump or his crazed minions. There was a good deal of farce about the whole affair, as there usually is in anything Trump puts his hand to. But four people died. And far-right groupings had the experience of invading the capitol. It was a farcical failure--but so was Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch, his first attempt at taking over, which ended in his taking a vacation in jail and writing Mein Kampf. If crises continue and deepen, there may yet be a more effective and serious attempt.

(2) By "antisocial," I meant people who murder, rape, or otherwise attack others. Would you have preferred a different word? Perhaps, "bad people"? "people in need of attitude improvement"? Anyway, an anarchist community will have to decide how to deal with such folks, if we are not to return to police and prisons. (Such nitpicking is typical of many of he responses here.)

(3) I wrote, "human society is, after all, a society, and in many areas under anarchism collective decisions will still have to be made." So one person writes, "The importance of the individual has always been central to all schools of anarchism; ...certainly not the disappearance as Price proffers." The leap from one statement to the other is breathtaking...

(4) A similar perspective seems to be behind hemispherian's friendly questioning of my views. I don't know what are 'proposals for "voluntary" majority rule that also circulate in anarchist circles under the label of stateless "direct democracy."' I don't know whether I would distinguish myself from these views. To me, as I wrote above, the process of creating a decision through free use of social intelligence is more important than the technical mechanisms of majority-rule-with -minority-rights or consensus-with-the-right-to-bloc-or-stand-aside. The important thing is that everyone participates in the discussion, learning from each other, being open to changing their minds, working together to solve problems and deal with real life issues. Of course, the discussion is by a community of individuals. But what do you mean by ' it's still very far from clear how the process you are championing differs from plain old discussion, on the basis of which individuals will decide.' The point is that individuals decide not just for themselves but as a group. I gave examples of where this must be done; you do not respond to them. A non-group "individualism", whereby each individual decides how the streets will be laid out in the commune or when the town mulcher should be available is not a real "alternative." You say my views 'imply a relatively fixed polity of some sort.' Yes, it often does. If we live in an agro-industrial commune, then it is a relatively fixed "polity" for some time. That's reality. If our anarchism cannot relate to that, it is as "utopian" as our opponents claim.

becomes hard to track when you scale up the discussion too much, doesn't it? that's why I only use affinity groups.

anything larger scale than that often becomes a castle-in-the-air discussion or worse, falls in to all the old leftist trappings of large orgs. fuck all that shit. if I don't actually know people, I definitely don't trust them and I'm not interested in any form of representation. have to hold my nose to even spokescouncil!

I'm completely with never planning the streets in the commune or scheduling the town mulcher lol

I don't get the sense, Wayne, that the sort of relations I would describe as anarchy have any place in your worldview. But you make it very difficult to be sure, never straying from a rather narrow set of options in your responses. It simply doesn't help to know what you will or will not accept as an alternative within a "commune" unless I can be sure how the structure of that commune relates to some basic anarchist questions.

Set aside "individualism" for a moment, as it seems only to function for you as a means of deflection. I want to know whether or not the "commune" that you insist on is or is not an instance of anarchic relations. Presumably, an instance of anarchic self-organization would involve individuals and actually ongoing instances of association, but would and could not involve the elevation of "the group" (no matter what you choose to call it) or its interests above that of those individuals and actually ongoing instances of association. (Pardon the somewhat awkward phrasing, but I want to avoid certain confusions that seem otherwise destined to arise.) That means not only no "state," but no reification of any given association into a vehicle for political rule, no similar elevation of the firm in the economic realm or of structures like the patriarchal family in more intimate relations. Groups exist as a function of that "free use of social intelligence," rather than as a fixed constraint on it. And then the rest of anarchic "society" is built, maintained, abandoned, altered, etc. on that very real foundation and with care not to compromise it. Anything else would seem to be that "governmentalism" that anarchists initially opposed—archy.

As social relations scale up in size and persist in duration, there are obviously issues that an anarchistic society would have to address, adjustments to be made so that a growth in complexity or persistence doesn't doom the anarchy. There's likely to be a great deal of experimentation involved in striking a balance that preserves the anarchic character of social relations and meets various other needs or desires. But there doesn't seem to be any reason to treat the project of striking that balance as an impossibility, a utopia or something at odds with reality—unless you are simply taking a stand against anarchy.

I expect that what I am describing will seem "individualist" to you, as it refuses "the group" any particular standing. But it strikes me that what is "individualist" in a harmful sense is the fairly arbitrary division of the interests of any given human agent into "individual" and "collective" categories—something really characteristic of the kinds of systems anarchists tend to oppose. Groups ultimately do not decide. That would seem to be reality. Instead, individuals do their best to balance the various kinds of interests they can be said to have—a process arguably much simplified by avoiding governmentalist conceptions—and groups do or do not persist (where there is freedom to change that sort of thing) on the basis of how well they succeed in striking the balance.

I wonder if Wayne's commune would allow a band of heavy metal Stirnerian musicians live with them and play everyday in the park?

I wonder if Wayne's commune would allow spontaneous group sex on the communal couch?

I wonder if Wayne's Commune Franchise will allow me to defecate on the stack of Marxist literature on the counter in the entrance foyer!?

It is difficult to discuss such abstract issues in the brief spaces of these comments (my essay did not cover "democracy" and "anarchism"). So at the end of these remarks I will offer three of my essays on the topic, which Humanispherian or anyone else may, if interested, read a more thorough statement of my views. Even if you continue to disagree, you may become clearer what you are disagreeing about.

Humanispherian implies that my views may not really be pro-"anarchy" as they see it. Nevertheless, among U.S. anarchists of various views, many have been for radical democracy, including David Graeber, Murray Bookchin, Noam Chomsky, Cindy Milstein, Paul Goodman, and Kevin Carson (besides yours truly), My insistence that the "individual" cannot be separated from the "group" or "society" is straight out of Bakunin and Kropotkin. You are free to think all these folks were/are wrong, but not that they were non-anarchist.

I am pretty much in agreement with Humanisphere's statement. Our only difference (and it is hard to know if this is just an abstract philosophical difference or a real difference in practice) is over the relation between the "individual" and the "group" or "society." I fully agree that it is a 'fairly arbitrary division of the interests of any given human agent into "individual" and "collective" categories.' But they seem to make just such a division when saying, 'Groups ultimately do not decide. That would seem to be reality.' No, the reality is that individuals in groups decide. They decide as individuals who are in groups. The totally isolated nonsocial individual does not and cannot exist (even hermits think they have a relation to Someone, and they pray in the language which they learned from their society). As Lucien Goldman asked, if five workers are moving a piano, just who is moving the piano?

Here are some of my essays on anarchy and democracy, beginning with a response to crimethinc.




We at the management of Wayne's Commune Franchise wish to alert our customers of a person going by the name of Wayne Price using our socialist franchise model for his own financial gain, and claiming that our worker's are devoted ancaps. No they are not, they are devouted socialists and have part ownership of their businesses.

the world doesn't hinge on the elucidation of this philosophical or practical difference.
there a so many disagreements among people that call themselves anarchists, unread extensive written efforts cannot be much more than a self-gratifying monologue or a fun online argument. i wouldn't try to persuade you to stop, but i'd love you to consider how insignificant this is. i suggest you send your texts to inmates overseas, perhaps around the middle east, maybe you might become the inspiration to the next Öcalan after you die.

Five workers are moving the piano. It is a case of concerted effort, which certainly doesn't require us to posit some group as the actual agent. And if the interests of the individual as individual and as a member of various specific, ongoing associations are indeed separated more or less arbitrarily, it seems that would could just as easily say that "group decision-making" just adds a layer of confusion to a process that can simply be decision-making, without any mediation by a polity or its representatives.

Now, given the vague nature of your response, maybe you agree with all of that. But you invoke figures like Bookchin — who I am absolutely "free" to think of as anything but an anarchist and who embraced majority rule in everything but name — as examples of those who agree with you. Most of the others on your list use the term "democracy" in idiosyncratic and varying ways, so, again, things aren't entirely clear. But I continue to be worried that you don't recognize "five workers" as a correct answer to the question.

As for Bakunin, I have to wonder what he would have made of the people who claim him for projects like "democratic anarchism." I'm inclined to think that the heart of his thought was a lot closer to "the revolt of life against science" than many of those who invoke him these days would like to admit.

I'll throw the freakin' piano down the staircase Wayne, I FREAKIN' MEAN IT!!!

Hemispherian writes, "Five workers are moving the piano. It is a case of concerted effort, which certainly doesn't require us to posit some group as the actual agent." But this is different from five workers each carrying a separate item into the new house. The five workers are moving the piano *together.* It is indeed "a case of concerted effort." This doesn't mean that there is a group over and above the five movers, as you imply is my idea. The group is the five workers and they are acting as a group. This is how society works, in a constant dialectic between individuals and society. When we do things as a group or a society and decide ourselves how to do it, that's what I (and the other anarchists I cited) mean by face-to-face communal democracy.

jfc wayne ... the problems start because of scale tho. if one of the 5 is being a dick, I can call him an asshole or punch him or tell him to move his own damned piano without me.

you two have been talking a LOT and this is where this discussion lands?! lol

please punch both shawn and wayne in the dick lest they squabble over which method of piano moving gives more masterbatory satisfaction for the individual and/or society! and never actually get out from behind their desks to move the fucking piano.

thank you in advance, lumpentroll. swing away!

- conspiracy of piano movers on fire

other than the holodomor and the mccarthyism and the brutally authoritarian regimes and the betrayals and mass murdering of anarchists and the problems with materialist analysis and the labour theory of value and the beards and stupid hats, other than all that, THIS IS WHY PEOPLE HATE MARXISTS YOU GUYS!!!

This is why people hate (some) anarchists. Here I am, advocating for decentralized, federalized, face-to-face, direct democracy, and Lumperntroll denounces me as a supporter of Marxist-Stalinist totalitarian mass murderers! Huh?

He's a contrarian Wayne. But on a serious note I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the Dunbarian theory and its significance to the decentralization of populations?

no ... I didn't denounce you as a stalinist ... holy crap man. it was a joke. how is that not clear from the ridiculousness of the entire post?

but it is funny to watch you bicker for so long about piano moving. this is how our tiny little @news memes are born!

Suppose there is a commune where a minority believes that a new road should be built. There is discussion in the commune. They win over a majority of the people but a (new) minority still does not want the new road. But either the road will be built or it won’t. This is coercion, not by the police but by reality. If the resistant minority vetoes the road (under consensus) then they are coercing the majority to give up its desire. If the majority wins (in a community of majority-rule, with respect for the rights of minorities), then the minority must live with an unwanted road. They could leave their homes and friends, of course, but any new place they go will also have to decide on roads. Or they could stay. They might be in the majority on the next issue.

This is your description, Wayne, of democracy, which is certainly consistent with Bookchin's non-anarchist communalist position. As for the others you claim as allies, well, I would be surprised if someone like Kevin didn't find the "coercion by reality" excuse a bit too close to the nonsense we've so consistently heard from capitalists. But, whether or not those others share your conception, that conception is a distinctly political, archic conception, with the "commune" clearly occupying a position above that of the "members," mediating and constraining their relations, demanding sacrifices to "the collective." As far as I can tell, the difference between free and concerted action and action ultimately in the service of the group has no place in your analysis. Your bogeyman of "individualism" seems to be nothing but an attempt to shame those who refuse the "reality" that we have to fuck each other over—but take turns, of course—in order to be social.

There's no particular shame in being a communalist, you know, but working to naturalize political relations in anarchist circles is pretty unpleasant behavior.

Is Wayne even aware of Dunbar's number in regards to human scale and what could properly be called concrete human grouping.

of that style seems like an over-intellectualized version of how things happen in real life. People dont really stop talking about how they are going to do something until they actually start doing it. THAT is the positive element of zen in a nutshell. Im really sick of the consensus votes. Your plans and manifestos are a mockery of the much needed life sustaining work that people do everyday without you.

when you have all these people carrying a piano, if one of them puts it down because their back hurts, they shouldnt need to start a voting process for life to continue.

Humanispherian begins by taking a paragraph from one ofmy essays on democracy. It is a good choice, since it raises such an important point, But then they do not even try to respond to it. How would an anarchist community decide on whether to build a new road, if there are differences of opinion? H.'s lack of response is intellectually cowardly.

Instead we are back to meaningless abstractions. God forbid the individual members of a commune should get together, talk it out, and come to a joint decision about what to do about the road or any other issue facing the commune. If they do, then the community of individuals will supposedly be 'occupying a position above that of the "members," mediating and constraining their relations, demanding sacrifices to "the collective." ' From there, there is barely a step to Lumpentroll's fantasies of mass murdering Stalinist dictatorships. If we take Humanisphere's principles to be anarchism, then clearly anarchism cannot work and we might as well settle for some conception of statist reformism. Thankfully I do not agree.

again .. the joke was... it's a bit silly to spend to long bickering about piano moving and road building. behaviour that stuffy old marxists would indulge in. That was the joke. It wasn't even a very good joke but now that you've made me explain it ... the cringe!

It was a terrible "joke".

It's also okay to acknowledge that you simply don't understand an opposing position, Wayne. Calling people names and blustering about other peoples' positions does not constitute a response—and you are presumably very keen that people at least try to respond.

Anyway, I addressed the issue several responses back, just before you tried to bow out with "read my essays." Here are my principles, laid out as a bare sketch of anarchist strategy for "getting together, talking it out and coming to joint decisions," without, in the process, instituting new polities, establishing social hierarchies or naturalizing political rule as an inescapable reality:

"That means not only no "state," but no reification of any given association into a vehicle for political rule, no similar elevation of the firm in the economic realm or of structures like the patriarchal family in more intimate relations. Groups exist as a function of that "free use of social intelligence," rather than as a fixed constraint on it. And then the rest of anarchic "society" is built, maintained, abandoned, altered, etc. on that very real foundation and with care not to compromise it. Anything else would seem to be that "governmentalism" that anarchists initially opposed—archy. "

It is indeed a bare sketch, but it is also the thing that you are presumably rejecting if you reject my principles. You have yet to show in what way treating groups solely as as expressions of concerted effort and present agreement—which simply do not exist when those constituting qualities are not present—"cannot work." Nor have you shown how that arrangement of relations would oblige the participating individuals to take turns imposing their political will on one another.

If it is a question of building roads, then an anarchist society has a number of problems to face before it gets to the question of who gets pushes around by whom. We can hope, for a variety of reasons, that there will be more debates, moving forward, about depaving than about where we send the bulldozers. Our ecological situation is such, even at comparatively small scales, that perhaps "a new road" should be treated as a project demanding not just universal support, but considerable research and perhaps ultimately a willingness to alter other aspects of our social and economic lives in order to avoid. Perhaps a consistent anarchy is a lot more less utopian if we don't imagine the work of society to involve the building of monumental, or even particularly durable, structures and institutions. That's not, by the way, a call for primitivism—and might be a call for some kind of ecological futurism. The important thing is that anarchists must be prepared to live with the consequences of anarchistic principles—or they probably should, for the sake of their own projects, reorganize around different principles.

To dress up your own form of libertarian minarchism as the only alternative to "some conception of statist reformism" (with or without gratuitous references to other people's supposed fantasies) seems to me an indication of either a quite active will to misrepresent opponents or evidence of a deep, deep lack of political understanding and imagination. It doesn't really matter to me at this point which it is, since both should be opposed in the defense of meaningfully anarchistic principles and practices.

(1) Dunbar's theory covered the limits on the number of people an individual's brain can effectively handle. I do not know much about it, but it fits into the data on human scale which Kirkpatrick Sale collected a while ago. It supports our opinion that society must be rooted in small, face-to-face, communities. This does not necessarily prevent it from federating and networking into larger social structures, but it must be based in smaller units (see also John Dewey on this).

(2) Ok, I will acknowledge that I "simply don't understand an opposing position," Hemispherian. Your abstract principles seem to me to provide little guidance for building an actual anarchist society, or for how such a society would make decisions. I cannot pin you down to even hypothetical cases of joint work and decision making. I don't know why you think that democratic decision-making is equivalent to establishing a state, or why when everyone has a voice in the making of a collective decision, those who (this time) are in the minority are being "pushed around." Or what you mean by saying that if your concept of anarchy is not workable in specific cases, then anarchists "probably should, for the sake of their own projects, reorganize around different principles." I admit, I don't get it.

(3)Apparently you do not think I am a real anarchist, but a "libertarian minarchist." Personally I think I am in the mainstream tradition of revolutionary anarchist socialism, from Bakunin and Kropotkin to the anarchist-communists and anarcho-syndicalists. Your criticisms would apply as much to them as to me. However, what if you are right? I don't really care to defend my being an orthodox anarchist or any kind of orthodox thing. The point is not to be an anarchist but to be for the liberation of the exploited and oppressed.

(4) Consider this point by Paul Goodman (not of my school of anarchism, but I have learned a lot from him): "Decentralization is not lack of order or planning, but a kind of coordination that relies on different motives from top down direction...to provide integration and cohesiveness. It is not 'anarchy' [chaos--WP]. But of course most Anarchists, like the anarcho-syndicalists or the community-anarchists, have not been 'anarchists' either, but decentralists."
People or Personnel.

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